Turkey’s Recep Erdogan gave White House national security adviser John Bolton the cold shoulder Tuesday as the U.S. attempts to ensure the safety of Kurds fighting against the Islamic State in Syria.
Erdogan refused to sit down with Bolton while the latter was in Ankara, later saying the Trump administration official made “a serious mistake” in telling reporters that the U.S. would only pull troops out of Syria if Turkey pledged not to attack its Kurdish allies there.
“It is not possible for me to swallow this,” Erdogan said during a speech in parliament. “Bolton made a serious mistake. If he thinks that way, he is in a big mistake. We will not compromise.”
Bolton met for roughly two hours with his Turkish counterpart Ibrahim Kalin and other officials but received no assurances on the safety of Syrian Kurdish allies — a condition for President Trump’s planned withdrawal of U.S. troops from northeastern Syria.
Erdogan added that his country’s preparations for a new military offensive against terror groups in Syria are “to a large extent” complete.
“We cannot make any concessions,” Erdogan said, slamming Bolton over comments suggesting the United States would prevent attacks on Kurds.
Trump announced late last month that the US had defeated ISIS in Syria and was pulling its 2,000 troops out of the country.
Bolton said over the weekend that the U.S. would seek assurances from Turkey before withdrawing that it would not harm the Kurds — for the first time adding a “condition” to the withdrawal.
Trump on Monday struck back at the perception that his intentions in Syria had changed.